Cancer threat looming large over Northeast India

Cancer threat looming large over Northeast India

ANI | Itanagar, March 11, 2018

The NE Region (NER), with a population of approximately 5 crore records 45,000 new cancer cases annually, 70% of which are reported at late stage resulting in a high mortality rate of 50%. The delayed diagnosis is due to a lack of awareness of cancer symptoms, poor access to affordable care and other psychological factors, like fear and fatalism. It has been proved that communication related to health not only substantially affects perception and behaviour related to health but also linked to health seeking behaviour. Approximately 50% of cancers are preventable by controlling the modifiable risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, amongst others.

A workshop on cancer research and careers in oncology will be conducted for medical students and nurses at Silchar, Guwahati, Tezpur & Dibrugarh.

Breast cancer is most common cancer among women while about 150- 200 cancer cases are reported per one lakh people annually in NER, according to Mumbai-based Tata Memorial director Dr R A Badwe. Stomach and esophagus cancers are caused as people consume unhygienically preserved and smoked meat, he had said, and advocated changing food habits, control obesity and turn their backs to tobacco could make the region cancer-free.

However, Dr Preet Dhillon, Public Health Foundation of India epidemiologist, in her article – Cancer – a looming threat in the NE-, on 26.07.16, painted a very gloomy picture quoting most recent cancer rates for India, based on data from 27 population-based cancer registries located across India, including all NE states, released by ICMR’s National Center for Disease and Informatics Research.

Unfortunately, the latest data show the highest age-adjusted cancer rates in India are in the NE, with Aizawl district in Mizoram for males (271 per 100,000) and Papumpare district in Arunachal Pradesh for females (249 per 100,000). In fact, the top 4-5 registries for men and women are in the NE (East Khasi Hills ranks 3rd at 211.5 per 100,000 for men).

For certain cancer sites, the highest rates occur in Meghalaya, as per reports.

A marathon pan-North- East bike rally and run to create awareness on cancer is in offing as a collaborative initiative of Tata Trusts in collaboration with Silchar-based Cachar Cancer Hospital & camp; Research Centre and National Cancer Grid.

The 2200-km 11-day pan-NER Bike Rally from March 12 covering seven NE states has been named as ‘Cruise Against Cancer’. A 5-km cancer run will be conducted at Shillong (Mar 12), Guwahati (Mar 13), Tezpur (Mar 14), before arriving at Naharalgun (Mar 14) and then travel to Dibrugarh (Mar 15), Kohima (Mar 16), Imphal (Mar 17), Aizwal (Mar 18), Agartala (Mar 20) and culminate at Silchar on Mar 22 in which over 300 to 400 people are expected to take part in each location.

The maiden event aims at promoting cancer awareness on ailment, certain common practices leading to cancer; connect to the community; communicate the importance of screening & early detection of cancer; reach out to general public, corporates, educational institutions, aid agencies and Govt/ NGOs to seek their involvement in tackling cancer burden in NER; leverage media coverage including print, electronic and social media to maximise the reach and encourage students for research in cancer & careers in oncology, organizers told ANI.

An hour-long event will be conducted after the run where doctors and state leaders will talk on cancer, cancer survivors will narrate their stories and the students will enact a street play at each place to send a louder message to spread mass awareness.

Arunachal Observer is the media partner of Arunachal campaign and the walkathon from TRIHMS would begin from 6 am onwards on March 15 next. A host of organizations, including State Cancer Society of Arunachal Pradesh (SCSAP), TRIHMS, Arunachal State Nursing School, Arunachal branch of Indian Medial Association, Arunachal Vivekananda Yuva Shakti, United Charity, VKV Alumni Association, Kenge Construction Company are partners of event, according to SCSAP nodal officer Dr S Tsering. Cancer in East Khasi Hills for both men (71.2 per 100,00) and women (33.2 per 100,000) as well as hypopharynx (22.2 per 100,00) and larynx (10.8 per 100,000) in men.

In the NE, tobacco-related cancers have the highest rates in India (eg, tongue in males; lung,mouth, nasopharynx and oesophagus in both men and women). Other types of cancers with known infectious causes are also highest in NE, for examples, cancers of the liver in men and cervix in females.

The latest estimates predict 15 lakh new cases of cancer each year in India with breast, lung and cervical cancers topping the list. One world-wide initiative to quantify cancer as Global Burden of Disease suggests that for some nations, like the US and the UK, some cancer rates (eg, breast) are beginning to decline. Unfortunately, India’s trends show no sign of abetting.



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